Can Seniors Do Yoga?
Senior caregivers are always looking for ways to help their clients exercise safely, and yoga is a fun and effective option. Yoga is an ancient form of gentle movement that can benefit senior health. Students learn special exercises and practice them with meditative attention and respect for their own limits. This focus on relaxation and body awareness make yoga ideal for many seniors.
Even healthy seniors are faced with the reality of a more fragile body, and many have health or disability challenges. Yoga can be adapted to suit any fitness level. Its exercises vary in difficulty, but students can practice the movements that are suitable for them and still benefit. Some seniors recovering from an illness or injury could benefit from therapeutic yoga if gentle exercise is medically advised.
We tend to lose flexibility in our senior years, and ailments or inactivity makes it worse. Yoga poses are designed to improve flexibility. Many postures gently stretch the hip flexors, abdomen, back, and shoulders. Movements are slow and controlled so that students can stay within comfortable limits and still get a good stretch.
One reason why seniors are prone to falls and injuries is a lack of core strength. A strong back and abdomen support a solid stance, good balance and limber movement. Yoga is one of the best ways to build core strength without resorting to strenuous exercises. The variety of standing and mat postures ensures that students can build up strength at their own pace.
With regular yoga practice, seniors can increase their energy and stamina for everyday activities. Yoga conditions the whole body, and the disciplined breathing and movement support cardiovascular fitness. Beginning senior students, especially, may find that yoga is a pleasantly challenging workout that leaves them feeling more refreshed than they have in a long time.
Seniors often suffer from depression, and those who rely on in home care may feel especially vulnerable. Like other forms of exercise and meditation, yoga helps lift mood and promote feelings of well being. Exercise raises levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, a mood booster that is often low in people with depression. Both exercise and meditation promote feelings of happiness through the release of endorphins. Yoga combines both to help the student feel a holistic sense of well being. Seniors, having a lifetime of experience, can relate to the philosophy that body and spirit heal together.
Social isolation is another cause of depression in people over 65 and attending group yoga classes can build a sense of connection. Seniors enjoy fitness time that also gives them the chance to make new friends.
Yoga provides older adults with mental and physical benefits that can help them thrive. Many communities offer yoga for seniors, so seniors and their caregivers may find that the perfect exercise is close at hand.